By Maxwell Pearlman ’17, Staff Writer
When the 2013 NFL season started, the New York Jets were the laughing stock of the league. After the circus that developed when the team picked up Tim Tebow and the demise of quarterback Mark Sanchez, the New York team was poised to be one of the worst teams in the league. Coming into the season, the Jets were ranked 32nd, dead last, in espn.com power rankings. After 10 weeks of the NFL season the Jets are now ranked 14th on the espn.com rankings. If the season were to end right now, the Jets would make the playoffs.
This is an amazing comeback for a team that was the go to punch line after the last season. The quarterback controversy that surrounded the team and the horrendous coaching resulted in the low expectations for the team this year. I don’t think any Jets fan will ever forget the “butt-fumble” last Nov. when Mark Sanchez ran into the rear end of offensive lineman Brandon Moore and dropped the football. This play encompassed everything wrong with the Jets last year; miscommunication and embarrassing errors defined the team.
So needless to say, when this season began, my expectations were terribly low. The Jets made a few noteworthy roster moves, including the acquisition of quarterback Geno Smith and running back Chris Ivory. However, offseason reports about Geno Smith were damning, implying that the former West Virginia quarterback had a bad work ethic and had poor leadership skills. Also, Chris Ivory was a third string running back with the New Orleans Saints. How was I supposed to get excited about a lazy quarterback and a third string running back?
Yet here we are at week 10, and the Jets control their own destiny. The team has a 2-1 divisional record and have 3 divisional games remaining. Even more encouraging is the relative weakness of the sets’ remaining schedule. In the remaining 7 games, the Jets play one team with a winning record (Carolina Panthers) and do not play the divisional leading New England Patriots again.
A lot hinges on the abilities of rookie quarterback Geno Smith. In Jets victories, Smith had a 0+/- Turnover ratio or better in losses Smith had a negative turnover ratio. Essentially when Geno Smith throws more TD’s than interceptions the Jets win. It’s that simple.
The one downside to the unlikely rise of the New York Jets is the eerie parallels to the team’s 2009 playoff campaign, when the Jets made the AFC championship game. During this season the team was rebuilding after Brett Favre left the team. Mark Sanchez was a new unproven college star. Thomas Jones was the workhorse running back for the team, and Rex Ryan had something to prove. All of these are striking similarities to this 2013 team.
This time around, Rex Ryan tried to implement many things from the triumphs and tribulations of previous seasons. His focus this year has been on running the defense while he has given new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg more control over that side. The difference is clear. Play-calling across the board has been more intelligent and caters to the talents of this team. With proper coaching and the careful development of Geno Smith the Jets are poised to make a serious run this year, and, hopefully, I did not just curse my favorite team.
First-year Maxwell Pearlman is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.